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2023: A Year in Review

2023: A Year in Review

2023 Year in Review at Madison Public Library

2023 was another exciting year at Madison Public Library. As you scroll, you'll see a data  snapshot of the library services delivered at our 9 locations and on the Dream Bus. These services include free access to our spaces, collections, programs, online databases and so much more! You'll see the impact of year-round author programs offered through the Wisconsin Book Festival, or the Bubbler at Madison Public Library's incredible focus on connecting, empowering and highlighting the work of local artists in the community. Then there are the juicy details - the most checked-out eBook and Audiobooks, the most popular things streamed on Kanopy, and exactly how many seeds got given way from the Seed Library this year! Read more below for a better look at our Year in Review, or go back and see how this year measures up against 2022, 2021 or 2020.

Thank you to everyone who borrowed a book, used an online database, attended a program, or supported the library in 2023! We can't wait for another year of library service in 2024. 

 Madison Public Library Rewind 2023 - Physical Checkouts

From books to movies, video games, records, and many other items in our Library of Things, Madisonians came to the library on a mission in 2023! You checked out 2,300,564 materials this year, a 35.1% increase from 2022. Sequoya Library continues to be our most popular library for checking out materials, with Pinney in second and Central Library in third. You can also see the Top 10 Most Requested Items for the year, and it's clear that the Barbenheimer craze of the summer had staying power, as both Barbie and Oppenheimer made the list! Thanks to the DVD-watchers, gamers and our many, many readers for showing us some love this year.

Note: Physical materials include only items that can be checked out at the library - so eBooks and Audiobooks aren't included in these numbers.

Madison Public Library Year in Review 2023 Digital Checkout Numbers

As we look back at 2023, we have to talk about eBooks, audiobooks and magazines! In 2023, we saw a 4.2% increase in overall digital checkouts, but the truly impressive numbers come when you look at the increase in audiobook checkouts (up 14.5% when compared to 2022) and magazine checkouts (which more than doubled compared to last year). When we look at the Top 5 titles in eBook and audiobooks - Little Fires Everywhere has now been in the Top 5 eBook Checkout List for three straight years, while Braiding Sweetgrass, Becoming and 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think all stayed in the Top 5 audiobooks for 2023. When it comes to the Top 5 magazines, The New Yorker remains in the top spot, but this time it has absolutely blown its competition out of the water with more than 5x the amount of checkouts than the number two spot, Cook's Illustrated.

We love our digital readers - make sure you've set up your Libby account to start checking out digital materials!

Madison Public Library Year in Review 2023 Library Visit numbers

There are so many reasons to visit the library! Whether you're reserving a meeting or study room, using one of the computers or accessing the free WiFi, borrowing books, attending programs, voting, or bringing your kids in to play, the library is a community hub where everyone is welcome. In 2023, we had more than 1.2 MILLION visits to our libraries - a 15% increase from last year - and there were three locations that stood out as the most popular to visit. Sequoya Library had a little less than a quarter of a million visits all on it's own last year, while Central Library downtown had over 200,000 visits and Pinney Library (our newest location) had 178,717.

Interested in visiting more library locations? Find out where each library is located.

Madison Public Library Year in Review 2023 Wisconsin Book Festival

In 2023, more than 12,000 people attended the 91 events hosted by the Wisconsin Book Festival throughout the year! That's 16 more events than in 2022, and all but two of them were in-person. Authors came from far and wide to speak at Central Library and other venues around town, including famous names like Roz Chast, John Scalzi, Clint Smith, Michelle Zauner, Elliot Page, Ross Gay, Sue & James Patterson, Jericho Brown, Emily St. John Mandel and so many more! The Wisconsin Book Festival also continued their partnership with Madison Public Library Foundation and A Room of One's Own bookstore in 2023, which allowed them to give away 4,070 FREE books to event attendees, courtesty of a gift from the Cheryl Rosen Weston Estate. As part of their work in the local community, they also hosted 6 events at local schools and gave away 1,030 free books to students.

Luckily for all of us, the Wisconsin Book Festival is returning in 2024 - they've already got a slate of events planned between Feb-May and be sure to save the date for the Fall Celebration Oct 17-20, 2024! Learn more at

Madison Public Library Year in Review 2023 Computer Use numbers

Being able to offer FREE computers to the public is something we are very proud of. We know how vital access to the internet can be - whether it's applying for a job, getting an application in, printing forms or even just for a needed entertainment break! In 2023, the number of computer sessions increased by 16.6% from 112,009 in 2022 to over 130,000 in 2023. The library is a free place to work, study or browse the web! Plus, you're surrounded by resources to help supplement what you find online.

If you're using the public computers for entrepreneurial pursuits, you can also check out our online Business Hub or connect to our Business Librarian, who can help you get connected with helpful resources to take your business to the next level!

Learn more about computer and internet access here:

Madison Public LIbrary Year in Review 2023 Online Databases

Accessing resources from home or on the go has become increasingly important, so we've added even more online databases to help facilitate that. In 2023, we saw usage of our online databases continue to grow! Consumer Reports was our most popular online tool, with Kanopy, our video streaming service, coming in second with more than 60,000 video plays throughout the year. You can see the Top 5 titles watched on Kanopy in 2023 - Academy Award-winning Everything, Everywhere All At Once took the top spot! Additionally, genealogy continues to be a popular pursuit at the library with lots of searches on Newspaper Archive and lots of usage on Ancestry Library. Our online databases cover everything from The New York Times and Washington Post access to studying for ACT/SAT tests or US Citizenship tests using Learning Express to learning a new language with Transparent Language.

Explore databases today:

Madison Public Library Year in Review 2023 Dream Bus numbers

2023 marked the 4th year of Dream Bus service! Our mobile library visited a dozen (or more) sites every week to provide library access and resources, but they also attended some key community events! The Dream Bus made appearances at Mobile Madison, Think Like A DJ and Parks Alive events, and some Forward Madison soccer games. Over the summer, the Dream Bus also hired a maker intern to lead children's programming at different stops and community events, and year-round the bus gives out We Read materials.

The Dream Bus is a partnership with Dane County Library service, and so it operates at stops throughout Madison, but also at stops in Sun Prairie, as well. The number of overall checkouts includes items checked out at Sun Prairie locations, but the nearly 6,000 visits, 223 new library cards, and 13 community events were all specific to Madison!

Read more about the history of the Dream Bus and see the Dream Bus schedule online.

Madison Public Library Year in Review 2023 Library of Things numbers

In 2023, we made our Library of Things official. Now, you can browse all of the ~unusual~ items you can check out from the library in one place! For instance, did you know you can check out binoculars + a birding guide in our Birding Backpacks? Or use our BCycle Community Pass to ride for free for a full week when BCycles are on the road? Or how about checking out one of the new Disc Golf Kits that we added in 2023 thanks to a partnership with Madison Parks? It's all there for you and more at

It was awesome to see so many of these items get checked out in 2023. Every single items listed increased from 2022 in terms of checkouts, and in some cases like Birding Backpacks and Records - they DOUBLED! 

Plus, this is the first year we've actually taken stock of how many seeds we gave away from our Seed Library and (spoiler alert) it's A LOT! In fact, we gave away more than 30,000 packets of seeds in 2023!

Madison Public Library Year in Review 2023 Bubbler numbers

The Bubbler at Madison Public Library is another beloved part of library service. The Bubbler has been an integral part of how we bring art and making into our libraries through programming, exhibitions, and pure creative ideas for more than 10 years, and we wouldn't want it any other way. In 2023, the library contracted with 161 artists through the Bubbler (18 more than in 2022)! Of those 161 individuals, 19 were part of the Making Justice program - a community-based learning program for at-risk and court-involved teens that includes weekly workshops and an artist-in-residence opportunity - 29 were facilitating artists for the Our Town Everywhere portrait-making project, and 9 were placed in our libraries over the summer to create weekly programs for kids and families. The Bubbler also went through an amazing process this year to transform our spaces by including art exhibitions at nearly every. single. library. In 2023 - the first year we've done this - we were able to host 19 exhibitions across 8 library locations and 3 community spaces!

The great part is that all of these artists are paid for their work (residencies, exhibitions, etc.) and the Bubbler just so happens to be looking for a whole lot of artists for 2024 positions RIGHT NOW. If any of these opportunities are of interest to you or someone you know, apply for a residency or exhibition before March 4, 2024.

Madison Public Library Year in Review 2023 Library Card numbers

Library Cards are at the core of what we do at the library. Your Madison Public Library card gives you access to a whole world of entertainment and access, and in 2020 we reduced barriers even further by eliminating fines.

In 2023, we issued 16,426 new Library Cards - a 16.9% increase from 2022. Of those new cards, 2,235 were Juvenile cards! Your library card is a free pass to millions of books, 30,000+ titles on Kanopy, hundreds of newspaper and magazine subscriptions and so much more.

Don't have a library card yet? What are you waiting for?! Get one today:

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